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Food-grade rpet is the beverage industry’s answer to plastic pollution

Dongguan Uni-Pak packaging company stand-up pouches 【Packaging and Printing Industry Network Hot Topics】 In the increasingly urgent trend of ecological protection, the "plastic reduction trend" sweeping the world, countries to reach a consensus on the control of plastic products. Consumers are more likely to buy products that promise sustainability, and traditional beverage brands are struggling to cope with the plastic problem, prompting various beverage brands to improve packaging, mainstream soft drinks, bottled water, juice, ready-to-drink coffee and tea are testing plastic bottle options.

The food and beverage industry is accelerating the "pace of plastic reduction" by changing materials, consumption methods and recycling, and their innovations show that there are different ways to combat plastic pollution. Beverage brands such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo still rely heavily on plastic, but they are trying to offset the impact of plastic by investing in recycling programs.

100% Recyclable and 100% Recycled Plastic Bottles

Coca-Cola said in February 2021 that it will begin rolling out 100 percent recyclable plastic bottles in convenience stores in the Northeast, Florida and California this month. The new package size is 13.2 ounces (about 375 milliliters), and the new design will be used for brands such as regular Coke and Diet Coke. Coca-Cola said the caps and labels will not be made from recycled materials. The recycled bottle will also have the "recycle me again" logo on the label.

PepsiCo's nakedjuice all-natural integrated juice brand is the tip of the iceberg in its determination to help sustainability in packaging by switching to new 100% recycled plastic bottles for its juice range in the UK. This is the first juice brand in the retail beverage sector to use recycled plastic bottles.

PepsiCo also says that plastic "is an effective and sustainable packaging material when it comes to recycling". But it also acknowledges the need for plastics to evolve: for example, through lightweighting and exploring new forms of packaging, such as biodegradable and compostable packaging.

Both sides are investing in partnerships to improve recycling infrastructure and reduce their respective plastic use, and neither intends to abandon the use of plastic altogether.

Pepsi wants to reduce virgin plastic in beverage bottles by 35 percent by 2025 and increase the recyclable content of plastic packaging in their portfolio to 25 percent by the same year.

Coca-Cola says their plastic bottles are made from an average of 75% virgin pet and 25% rpet, with a goal of being 50% recyclable by 2030.

Improving recycling

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, along with keurig dr pepper, announced the launch of the "every bottle back" initiative in the United States in October 2019. The initiative is led by the American Beverage Association (aba), an organization that will donate $100 million to improve plastic bottle recycling in four regions of the United States.

Since its inception, the organization has been working to upgrade sorting, processing and recycling centers. It addresses consumer education about "disposable" labels and keeps bottles out of oceans, rivers and landfills.

Fighting for 100% and supporting innovators

U.S. plant-based beverage maker rebbl is making good on its 2019 commitment to remove virgin plastic from packaging by this year. rebbl says it has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 922 tons of CO2 by converting 20 million bottles of plastic to 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic each year. The brand's green packaging initiative includes converting used plastic bottles to new plastic bottles, saving resources and reducing landfill waste without affecting the price of the final product.

By mid-May 2020, all of rebbl's 12-ounce beverages will be sold in the U.S. These new bottles will be labeled to advertise this recyclable material. The bottles will look and feel the same as the old packaging, and the recipes of the beverages will remain unchanged. Prior to the conversion to 100%, all rebbl bottles used 50% rpet. The brand's shipping materials are also fully recyclable or biodegradable. rebbl joins other beverage brands that have pioneered the 100% rpet.

Nestlé Premium Pure Water also uses 100% recyclable plastic bottles in the US and it is marketed as reusable rather than single-use.

Evian is also introducing 100% rpet plastic bottles in some of its UK products and has committed to removing the use of virgin plastic in the UK by 2025.

New coffee brand Three and a Half has launched a "return program": users can take their empty coffee cans to an offline "return point" for recycling at a specific time and exchange them for new coffee and limited peripherals. It is reported that the three and a half coffee cups are made of 100% recyclable materials, and the recycled empty coffee cans will not be used for secondary packaging, but will be processed according to recycling standards and used to make new product peripherals.

Diageo plans to launch a 100% plastic-free, paper-based bottle for Zuni Walker (johnnie walker) in early 2021. The bottles are made from sustainably sourced wood pulp by pressing the pulp in a mold and then curing it in a microwave oven; the bottles will be sprayed with coatings on the inside that will not interact chemically, etc. with the beverage they hold, meet food safety standards and can continue to be recycled.

Developing rpet for small companies

The transition to 100 percent rpet is costly, complex and difficult for small brands, and innovation in plastics is being sought after by entrepreneurs.

French water brand Paris Water last month began the "next packaging movement," a sustainable packaging innovation project. Paris Water said the three winning startups will have until 2025 to bring their products to market, providing them with technical, operational and financial support for a total investment of up to 1 million euros.

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Post time: Aug-02-2022